Comfort Fuel: Steak and Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

This take on a classic wintertime dish won’t weigh you down after a hard day of training.

Shepherd’s pie is an incredible vegetable-packed, nutrient-dense meal fit for any training athlete. Traditionally, shepherd’s pie was made with leftover winter vegetables and lamb roast. The recipe below carries the same association of comfort food by the forkful, but I’ve made a few changes to the standard recipe to make it even more fitting for the athlete’s diet.

A Versatile Recipe

My recipe uses fresh veggies and steak for the gravy base. It’s also thickened with rice flour to make it gluten free. If you wish to stay grain free, try using tapioca flour.

For the mashed potato topping, this preparation uses a combination of potato and turnip to decrease the amount of carbs for athletes maintaining a lower-carb diet. You can use any combination of white potato, sweet potato, or turnips for a ton of nutritional impact.

The mashed potato and turnip topping is deliciously dairy free, but is still remarkably creamy thanks to the addition of an egg and olive oil. Complete the dish with a sprinkle of chives and paprika to taste. Serve steaming hot from the oven.

This can also be made into an easy freezer meal. Simply make the steak and veggie gravy, top with the mashed potatoes, and place in a freezer-proof/oven-proof dish (or multiple dishes for smaller portions). Instead of baking, cover with foil and freeze it. When you’re ready to cook the shepherd’s pie, set it out in advance so it thaws in the middle. Bake until it’s bubbling hot.

Steak and Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

Prep time: 45 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Yield: Makes 1 large skillet


For the Steak and Vegetable Gravy:

  • 3/4 – 1lb steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 Tablespoons rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Splash of red wine (optional)

For the Topping:

  • 2 medium potatoes (white or sweet), peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk or broth of any kind
  • 1 egg
  • Smoked paprika and chives for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place cut potatoes and turnips in a pot of salted water. Boil the potatoes and turnips in enough water to cover them completely until they are soft.
  3. While potatoes and turnips are boiling, prepare the gravy as follows.
  4. In a saucepan or large cast iron skillet, sauté the carrots, celery, onion, parsnips, and garlic with the olive oil until the veggies start to get tender.
  5. Slide the veggies to the outer edge of the skillet and add the steak pieces into the center.
  6. Stir and cook steak until browned on all sides.
  7. Add remaining ingredients and stir together.
  8. Simmer until gravy thickens.
  9. If not using a cast iron pan, pour gravy into a baking dish, leaving at least a 1-inch clearance from the top of the dish.
  10. After potatoes and turnips are soft, drain water completely and mash with a potato masher or use a hand mixer on lowest speed.
  11. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and coconut milk (or broth) and mix.
  12. Add egg to the mixture and combine.
  13. Spread a layer of the mashed potatoes and turnips about 1/2-inch thick over top of the steak and veggie gravy.
  14. Sprinkle with fresh chives and paprika.
  15. Bake 30 minutes. Serve hot from the oven!


This dish tends to get a bit bubbly in the oven, so I’d recommend placing a baking sheet underneath to catch any overflow.

More Winter Comfort Food:

Photo courtesy of Kari Lund.